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EU Parliament Head Accuses Poland of ‘Putinization’, What Does He Mean?

© REUTERS / Kacper PempelPeople hold EU and Polish flags as they gather during a pro-democracy demonstration at the Old Town in Warsaw, Poland January 9, 2016
People hold EU and Polish flags as they gather during a pro-democracy demonstration at the Old Town in Warsaw, Poland January 9, 2016 - Sputnik International
European Parliament Chief has repeatedly accused the Polish government of subordinating the interests of the state to those of the winning party, referring to the constitutional crisis in Poland. He specifically termed it the “Putinization of European politics,” but ruled out that his comments represent an interference into the internal affairs.

Polish President Andrzej Duda,center, and the leader of Law and Justice party Jaroslaw Kaczynski, second left, attend the Prime Minister nomination ceremony for Beata Szydlo in the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 - Sputnik International
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“The Polish government considers its [October] election victory a mandate to subordinate the interests of the state to the interests of the winning party,” Schulz told Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, according the paper’s website.

“That’s democracy carried out in the style of [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin and a dangerous 'Putinization' of European politics,” Schulz added, as quoted by the website.

The comments come in relation to the constitutional crisis in the country, its worst since 1989, the year of the first elections in its post-war history.

The Polish Constitutional crisis of 2015 is a series of conflicts following the Polish parliamentary election of October 2015 regarding amendments to the organization of the Polish Constitutional Court. The amendments caused domestic and international criticism.

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Schulz’s comments were echoed by Viviane Reding, former EU Justice Commissioner and current Member of the European Parliament, who also somehow drew a parallel with Russia, saying that the attack on the rule of law always begins with an attack on the Constitutional Court.

Both politicians ruled out that their comments represented any interference into the internal affairs of a country.

Earlier in December Poland had demanded an apology from Schulz after he called its judicial changes a ‘coup’.

"What is happening in Poland has the characteristics of a coup and is dramatic. I am going on the principle that we are going to discuss this in detail this week at the European parliament, or at the latest, during the session in January," he then told Deutschlandfunk radio.

Schulz's comments sparked an angry response from Warsaw, with Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło demanding an apology.

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"These types of comments — and this is not the first time that president Schulz uses such a tone — concerning Poland and Polish affairs, are unacceptable to me," Szydło then said.

"I am expecting Mr Martin Schulz to not only stop making such comments but also apologize to Poland," she added.

The political tensions center around efforts by the ruling party to install five judges of its own choosing on the 15-member court, and refusing to recognize judges who were appointed by the previous parliament when the liberal Civic Platform (PO) party was in power.

It also comes on the heels of legal moves giving Poland's conservative government the power to directly appoint the heads of public broadcasters.

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